Conducting audits in times of Corona during lockdown – in my blog post, I’ll tell you what the procedure of an audit looks like during closed doors and what my favorite part of it is.

In my last blog post, I told you how an audit for the “Hygiene and Infection-protection Management” (HIM) certification works when businesses are open. In times when all restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels were closed, we had to think of a way how we auditors can still perform the audits.
Accordingly, an audit with closed businesses would look like this:

The procedure does not change much compared to the usual audit. A representative and I will start with an introductory talk and a document check. This is followed by a tour of the premises. In closed businesses, there are usually no service staff on site. The auditors are therefore unable to assess how the employees implement the instructions. However, some establishments have a delivery service or a to-go business, so there are cooks there that I can watch working. I fill out the checklist with the points I have seen and conduct the final interview.

In order for us auditors to be able to check whether the employees are implementing the specifications during day-to-day processes, we visit them again as soon as the lockdown is over.

What happens after the lockdown:

The so-called mystery check is carried out “incognito”.

mystery check

Undercover as a guest

I then go into the plant unannounced as a guest. I then check whether the tables have been laid beforehand, how menus are handled, and how employees and guests behave. These are the things that I couldn’t check during the lockdown. I see everything from the guest’s point of view – from the reservation and contact data entry to the bill and leaving the establishment.

Depending on the arrangement with the customers, I reveal myself after the check and leave feedback directly. Or I keep my “camouflage” as a guest and report my experiences to the management afterwards.

My favorite moment during an audit

The audits in closed businesses actually have some advantages. This allows us to take a deeper look behind the scenes. For example, we have more time to look at cold stores and storage rooms. We’re also not in anyone’s way, don’t disturb any walkways, and don’t have to avoid the hectic processes of the cooks in the kitchen as much. My counterpart also has more peace and quiet and doesn’t have to jump in somewhere in between.

The part of an audit that I particularly like is the introductory talk.

How an audit situation looks like

Especially when I’m not auditing a system catering or a chain hotel, many operators don’t know what to expect. Audit situations are often new. But I don’t act like Gordon Ramsay, the famous TV chef and restaurant critic. I’m definitely nicer and not so keen on making a ruckus. 😉.

Of course, some topics are open to discussion. But once it’s clear that we’re not the nasty inspectors who walk through the business pointing fingers and checking every soup for flies, but partners who are pursuing the same goal, the situation usually relaxes quite quickly. Because in the end, we are all happy when we can award a restaurant or hotel and recommend a visit to guests with a clear conscience. We can’t rule out the possibility of people catching the disease. But we can communicate that the certificate holder is fulfilling its obligation to do the best possible to prevent infection and to track infection chains. After all, the focus is on giving guests a sense of trust and security again.

So what I look forward to most, when the infection numbers allow it again, is having a glass of wine with friends and enjoying a social evening – preferably, of course, in a certified restaurant where I know they care not only about good food but also about infection control.😊


Alina Roeder

Alina Roeder


Alina Roeder is an auditor and product manager in the systems area. In addition to her commitment to a wide range of services, she is responsible for our human resources management standard “Excellent Employer”. She is also involved in projects, e.g. of the International Paralympic Committee.
My career-tip for you: If you notice that you are not challenged enough, encourage and challenge yourself.

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